I would rather put my own eyes out with a red-hot poker than watch American Idol (I used to say a pitchfork, but then Paula Abdul left and I mellowed), so I have no opinion about whether it's worse this season than in the past. Well, honestly, I don't see how it could be worse than it used to be, but that's more of a teleological argument than a critical assessment.
But two or three times a week, I pass the desk of poor Howard Cohen, who writes the Herald's Idol Watch blog. Inevitably he's smashing old Fleetwood Mac LPs over his head while ranting about what an idiot Kara DioGuardi is and how Ryan Seacrest should be put to death, slowly and painfully, all of which I take to be an adverse opinion of the current state of Idol.
And it seems Howard has plenty of company -- or, rather, non-company. Idol's ratings have been slipping all season, and last night they hit the lowest level for the show's regular Wednesday telecast since 2002. Of course, the 19.1 million people watching American Idol would have been the envy of almost any other show on television, but for a program that once pulled in 38 million, they represent an alarming trend.
So it might be time to start cutting emotional attachments to American Idol -- it's a good bet that next season might be its last. Speaking of emotional attachments, I hope you haven't formed any to ABC's middle-American-goth epic, Happy Town. Ratings for its week-ago debut were crummy, and they dropped 29 percent for Wednesday's second episode. The official Nielsen category for 29 percent below crummy is, dead.